I’ve come to realize that effectiveness in the role The Semiahmoo Foundation plays in the community is largely dependent on the quality of our relationships, with trust being at the center in the development of meaningful connections. Without trust, people would not pay much attention to what we say and do, and it would be impossible to do our work. This is particularly true when the work is as abstract as ours. We don’t have the benefit of demonstrating our value through the delivery of services. We only have ourselves, and the way we carry ourselves.
With trust, we embrace diversity, engage in respectful dialogue and achieve greatness. If I take, for example, the type of collaborative work that happens when planning events, trust is evident and felt among the members our team. Together, we are committed to achieving a shared outcome. We pull together; we are comfortable with each other; we feel safe and secure; and we can be vulnerable. By being vulnerable, we can be ourselves and give our best.
In addition, in a non-profit environment with limited resources, trust makes our team more productive. That doesn’t mean that we have to agree with everything we say and do. The mutual respect we have for each other allows us to evaluate our different perspectives and incorporate them in our life-long learning journeys.
Having trusting relationships is precious. In my experience, most people in our line of work are inclined to trust easily. However, if the trust is lost, it’s difficult to get it back. One small event, a few inconsiderate words can quickly erode our sense of trust. It can take a disproportionate amount of good deeds and time before trust and respect can be restored again. Trust is the kind of bank account that requires constant deposits.
Each one of us is individually accountable to inspire trust. It pays to be introspective and ask ourselves whether or not our words and actions are congruent with the trusting and respectful relationships we are hoping to develop, starting by nurturing a set of values, such as honesty, vulnerability, integrity and inclusiveness. Then, something magical happens. Like-minded people congregate and garner the power to transform the world.
By Louise Tremblay, Director of Development with UNITI